Saturday, October 22, 2016

Just Filled Out My Ballot

I'm a permanent "vote by mail" person in California--which probably means that I'll be voting Democratic after I die--and I just filled out my ballot.  California has some election peculiarities:

1.  There are only 2 options for US Senator, and they're both Democrats.  We hold our primaries in the Spring, and the top two vote-getters in the primaries advance to the general election ballot.  Can you guess which party runs California?
2.  Voters can submit initiatives to vote on, the most famous being 1978's Proposition 13 (which limits property tax increases).  I don't know how many initiatives have been submitted over the years, but I do know that we reuse the numbers (so we don't have Proposition 1,857).  This year propositions ranged from #51 to #67 and covered topics as varied as legalizing marijuana, requiring porn actors to wear condoms when filming, banning plastic grocery bags, eliminating the death penalty, and pricing prescription drugs, among others.

Clearly, I didn't vote for senator.  And my default position on initiatives is to vote "status quo", which is usually "no".  Unless I'm absolutely sure that the initiative has no chance of "going wrong", that it's so simple and obvious that it cannot be corrupted, I vote "no".  Unless somethng is simple and obvious, big money will no doubt have its own way.  I will only vote "yes" on an initiative if I can see no harm coming from it.  As a result, on the 17 initiatives, I voted "yes" on only 2.

My school district put a bond measure on the ballot, one that's expected to win with 65% of the vote.  It's for the equivalent of two years of the district's entire budget to upgrade, repair, and build new facilities.  As they put such measures on the ballot every few years--measures that pass every time, despite obvious evidence that the district doesn't budget for maintenance properly--I voted "no".  It doesn't matter, though, as it's only a protest vote, because as I said, it's expected to pass handily.

I almost always vote down bond measures.  If there's an issue, the legislature should address it.  If our schools are falling apart, the district and the county office of education should lobby the legislature for more funds.  That's what the legislature is for.  If the county wants to repair streets and expand light rail, the board of supervisors should vote on it and vote to raise taxes.  Initiatives are the coward politician's way out of doing what they're elected to do.  If Proposition 53 passes, which would require a statewide vote for state bond issues over $2 billion (direct response to the bullet train fiasco), politicians should vote for the project first, and then ask the public for the money.  Make them go on record justifying an expenditure.

That's just my fantasy world, living as I do in the People's Republik of Kalifornia.


Pseudotsuga said...

I always pay careful attention to the people and things that the American Federation of Teachers endorses. That way, I can be sure to vote the right way by voting against them.

Ellen K said...

I live near one of the fastest growing cities in the US-Frisco TX. They just voted down a bond issue and will be holding off on opening four schools next Fall. Arlington TX is going to vote on a bond issue to fund the new covered stadium for the TExas Rangers. Never mind that the folks in Arlington have been doing the heavy financial lifting for Jerry Jone's monstrosity. Oh sure "they" promise development. Funny how it never happens. My own district (in which I do not live) squandered millions of their savings on placating the previous superintendent and switching all systems from PC to Mac. As a result we are now in the red. It's not obvious to the casual observer, but I can see where corners are being cut. The AC doesn't go on until the students arrive and it's turned off at 2:00 pm. The custodians are fewer. Budgets are being squeezed. And our district tells us we must be advocates for the new bond issue. Seeing my own property taxes rise again, I doubt the people in areas where housing prices are escalating will be willing to add more onto that burden. What is more, my district is facing some serious issues on insurance where teachers were given a token 3% raise-the first one in five years-which doesn't even cover the increase in premiums. The swelling numbers in schools are not just children of the affluent-even in my school 15% of the students are undocumented. This means all those taxpayers are funding programs for students whose parents may not even be in this country. Many of our students come from Korea and they stay with distant relations or even on their own. This should be illegal, but not in Obama's America.

David said...

so which 2 did you vote yes on?

I am waiting until the last minute to fill out my ballot.

Anonymous said...

I hope one of your two yes's was prop 54.

Darren said...

I'm not going to share my votes. I have to keep *some* things private!

Mike Thiac said...

I just managed to vote and I had to go through such right wing voter suppression. I had to show an ID card.

Right next to the entrance there was a post with accepted voter ID:

Texas Driver's License
Texas Driver's License (Under 21)
Texas Identification Care
Texas Concealed Handgun Card
Texas Election Identification Card
Texas Handgun License
US Passport
US Passport Card
Permanent Exemption
Military ID Cardd
DoD Civilian ID Card
VA ID Card
Veterans Health ID Card
Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization

How can people vote this such a restriction! Must be the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy at work again.


In all honestly, to be a bit different, I showed by Concealed Carry License, and I voted. Time from walking up to the clerk to walking out, less than 5 minutes (granted, I voted straight R and we didn't have propositions on the ticket)

Ellen K said...

Mike, I agree-they didn't even want my Texas Voters Card as long as I had my driver's license. Once I got in, the voting only took ten minutes. Standing in line for two hours waiting to vote-THAT took more time than it should have.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you must not be in HISD. We have a prop 1 to determine who gets the property tax revenues. Something to do with the Robin Hood deal.